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Entries in Christopher Walken (13)

Tuesday
Sep222015

TIFF's Most F***ed Up Families

The everyday bloody evil of a clan in Argentina or public event provocations via a performance art brood in New England? Here are two more TIFF films for your consideration that focus on deviant nuclear families.

The Clan (Argentina, Pablo Trapero)
This true story thriller is based on an infamous series of crimes in Argentina in which a seemingly respectable but cruel upper middle class family who kidnapped members of even wealthier families (some of whom they were actually friends with) for huge ransoms. The central characters are the patriach and his eldest son, a soccer star, who feels increasing guilt about their paterfamilias activities. As a result of the grim crimes, and the sick complicity of all the characters, this is often an unpleasant and chilling watch, but the performances are strong (particularly the father who is cooly sociopathic in his entitlement and manipulations) and it builds to a strong and shocking 'how did they film that?' finale. Unfortunately, for non-Argentine audiences,  the storytelling often assumes that you'll understand particulars which aren't well layed out such as dates, political environments and sidelined characters that are all clearly more significant to the happenings if you already know the story. B

Oscar Trivia Note: Argentina has not yet selected their Oscar submission for 2015 though this one seems likely since it's a big hit at home. They've been nominated at least once a decade since the 1970s winning for The Official Story (1985) and Secret in Their Eyes (2009, which gets an English language remake this next month with Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the leading roles.) The Clan's popular director Pablo Trapero has been submitted twice before for Lion's Den (2008) and Carancho (2010) but neither were nominated. 

Release Note: According to IMDb, Twentieth Century Fox has US distribution rights though no US release date has been named.

Christopher Walken, Maryann Pluckett, Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman are The Family Fang

THE FAMILY FANG (US, Jason Bateman)
Some stories are not universal. This extremely specific dramedy is about two adult siblings Child A (Nicole Kidman) and Child B (Jason Bateman) who were raised by performance artists (Christopher Walken in a great bit of 'OF COURSE' casting and Maryann Pluckett who is possibly the film's MVP as the mother who is always trying to pacify her excitable husband and excite her reluctant children). The children grew up in this mandatory performance environment as the stars of most of their parent's most famous pieces. We see them as children in elaborate flashbacks of their "art" which generally involved pranking the public somehow sometimes with mock arguments in public parks other times with more elaborate scarier setups like a faux bank robbery.  Naturally the kids are fucked up as adults, when the story begins but both are artists: Child A is an alcoholic movie star whose career is on the skids and Child B a novelist and the most "normal" of the family member though he has his own problems, like the inability to say no to really foolish dares and offers. [SORTA  SPOILER] It's a difficult film to describe as the tone shifts from oddly funny to darkly satiric and then just sad and dramatic as the sudden bloody disappearance of the parents has the actress angrily convinced that it's another performance piece and the novelist sadly convinced that their parents are gone for good. [/SORTA SPOILER] What sells the film through its tonal shifts and logical loopholes are smart and tetchy performances from both Kidman and Bateman, who read as both too close and not close enough in a weird act of sibling chemistry, and the film's strange sense of humor. It doesn't always nail it's more ambitious attempts to be about the emotional cost of art for artists but it's highly watchable and interesting. B

A Note for Kidmaniacs: I'll never figure out why they de-glam Kidman with a bad frumpy wig when she's actually playing a movie star and it's really disconcerting to see her take off a wig that looks like her normal Nicole Kidman hair in her first scene to reveal the characters real hair (also a wig) for the remainder of the film.

Release Note: The Family Fang has no distribution as of yet but it's only a matter of time with famouis actors in three of the four key roles and solid if unspectacular reviews. That said the topic makes this a rough sell so a smaller indie who relies on VOD if they get nervous about marketability seems more likely.

Tuesday
May122015

Beauty Break: Will Karl Glusman Break Out at Cannes?

Cannes is as high profile as film festivals get so your first starring role in a buzzy feature could really make waves. Consider... Karl Glusman. He's the male star of Gaspar Noé's Love, the already buzzy sex film that gets a special screening at Cannes. He has a few credits in shorts and several on stage, plus voice work in a Starship Troopers film but he's still an unknown quantity. 2015 will be his first year in the movies proper so it could well start with a bang.

Gaspar Noé calls him

...the collest actor I have ever met. He is daring, joyful and intelligent. He has love scenes throughout the whole movie. He is the ultimate 3D baby maker."

Glusman photos (one NSFW) and videos after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr282015

Tribeca: "Anesthesia" and "When I Live My Life Over Again"

Pardon the onslaught but now that Tribeca has concluded we're wrapping up our coverage. Here's Abstew on two more star-heavy flicks. - Editor

Anesthesia 
Populated by familiar faces (Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Kristen Stewart, and Gretchen Mol to name a few), actor turned writer/director Tim Blake Nelson (most recently seen as Kimmy Schmidt's bumbling stepfather on the Netflix comedy series) has assembled a multi-story film that revolves around a bloody mugging that happens in the first moments to Waterston's University Professor. As is usually the case with films that involved multiple storylines, not all of them are as compelling as others and some of them simply take too long to reveal how they connect to the main story. But Nelson, perhaps because he is an actor first, gives his fellow thespians meaty roles to play with such tough-hitting issues as drug addiction, self mutilation, infidelity, cancer, and even lose of virginity. But his hyper-intelligent dialogue often times threatens to overshadow the story he's telling (and sometimes reaches too far like a clunky bit that compares a character's wants to an everything bagel).

But it's the strong work of the actors that keep the story afloat...

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Thursday
Dec042014

PETER PAN LIVE! Live Blog with Margaret & Anne Marie

ANNE MARIE: Good evening, Lost Boys & Girls. Anne Marie here with the ever-youthful Margaret to live-blog NBC's Peter Pan Live! Or it would be live, but Los Angeles does everything on a delay, so instead it's a late-blog three hours after the original event began.

MARGARET: Thank goodness they don't do this with the Oscars.

ANNE MARIE: A word on my credentials: Like millions of children, I was basically raised on the Mary Martin/Cyril Ritchard broadcast. Until I was six, I thought I was going to grow up to be Peter Pan. I've also been in it, designed for it, and seen the Cathy Rigby version (twice).  Oh, and for actual credentials, I have a minor in theater and have stage managed in LA for six years. I also liveblogged The Sound of Music Live! last year. This isn't my first trip to Neverland, is what I'm saying. 

MARGARET: While I haven't Anne Marie's technical background, I also grew up a huge fan of the Mary Martin production. My copy was taped from a TV broadcast on an ancient VHS (look it up, kids) and I watched it so much I memorized the commercials. Since I am also a great fan of (1) celebrities looking uncomfortable and (2) anything with a strong potential for disaster, tonight's entertainment is right up my alley. I hope I'm not alone in that.

ANNE MARIE: If you're on the East Coast, check in with us and think back on fond memories made just three hours ago. If you're on the West Coast, follow along as we experience childhood anew. If you're in one of the middle states, then you're kinda like the Lost Boys: nobody pays attention to you and we spend a lot of time flying over your head. 

Are you ready? OFF TO NEVERLAND!

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct282014

Curio: Jason D'Aquino's Matchbook Miniatures

Alexa here with your weekly film craftiness. Jason D'Aquino is an artist with a gothic sensibility who works in miniature.  With the help of magnification goggles and architectural drafting tools, Jason draws pop-culture-inspired pieces on found ephemera, usually no larger than an inch square.

His matchbook series is perfect for this time of year: creepy graphite portraits tucked inside front-strike matchbooks, with many taken from classic horror movies.  (I particularly enjoy his use of vintage bone screw packaging for Frankenstein.) Here is a selection...  

Click to read more ...